Developing your commercial awareness/business acumen
Developing your commercial awareness/business acumen

The following In-house Advisor practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Developing your commercial awareness/business acumen
  • Gaining familiarity with your organisation
  • Putting a transaction in context
  • About your business division
  • About your business colleague(s) involved in the deal
  • About the customer
  • About the deal
  • Appreciating the financial impact of what you do or don't do
  • Overcoming fear or discomfort with ‘the numbers’
  • Opportunities and methods of development

This Practice Note provides practical guidance and tips for in-house lawyers on developing and improving their own commercial awareness or business acumen.

Gaining familiarity with your organisation

Most businesses will expect their in-house lawyers to be familiar with the:

  1. business

  2. organisational structure (and its evolution)

  3. industry they operate in

Having this insight is often a prerequisite to performing well as an in-house lawyer and to career development.

This table contains examples of some different approaches you could potentially take to increase your commercial awareness/business acumen across some key areas of importance:

AreaDocuments to studyEvents you could attend to increase awareness/knowledgeQuestions to pose to business colleagues
Business strategy/plansBusiness plan
Any other company documents which discuss strategy/plans
Management meetings
Internal briefings
How can the legal team help you to achieve your plans?
Products/services on offerWebsite
Brochures/collateral
Staff training
Shadowing
Customer demonstrations
Can you show me what the product/service does and how it works?
Major customersCommercial metrics
Business press
Media
Customer meetings
Sales briefings
How important is this customer to our business?
Is this customer an at risk account?
Competitors (known and potential)Internal briefings
Business press
Media
Conferences
Trade/industry fairs
Trade association meetings
How big a competitor are they?
What impact are they having on our business?
Significant suppliersSupply contracts
Procurement material
Business press
Negotiation sessions
Trade/industry fairs
How dependent are we on them?
Do we have an alternative supplier in place in case of issues?
Regulators who can affect the business to a material degreeCompliance policiesCompliance trainingWhat are the show-stoppers? (Bear in mind that

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